Open house showcases new Dwinelle advising center

The College of Letters and Science’s Office of Undergraduate Advising celebrated the opening of its new Dwinelle Hall location with an open house Wednesday for undergraduate major advisers and their campus partners.

Academic counselor Steven Nguyen signs in at the open house. (UC Berkeley photos by Hulda Nelson)

The advising center in 156 Dwinelle Hall, which went into operation Feb. 7, will “bring advising closer to students,” says Roseanne Fong, director of the Office of Undergraduate Advising. Another advising center in Evans Hall, which has 18 advisers, is not conveniently located for many undergraduates.

“With the office near large lecture halls in Dwinelle Hall, students can just walk 20 steps and get their questions answered,” Fong adds.

One of five new offices for advisers in Dwinelle Hall.

The brightly painted, inviting space — created by merging rooms 156 and 160 in Dwinelle — was made possible by campus and donor funds. It houses a reception area, five advising offices, a meeting space and a kitchen. Finding the center will be easy for students entering Dwinelle, since an entire wall in the lobby is painted Cal gold and sports the words “College of Letters & Science Undergraduate Advising.”

There has always been an interest by the College of Letters and Science in having an advising office between Sproul Hall and Moffitt Library, an area on campus where most student activities take place, says Bob Jacobsen, professor of physics and dean of undergraduate studies for the College of Letters and Science.

This space in 156 Dwinelle can be used for workshops and meetings.

“Finding a way to serve the students where they are is important, and we want to make the physical space as accessible as possible,” he says.

The center, which is mainly intended for freshmen and sophomores, is staffed with four College of Letters and Science advisers and one rotating senior adviser, along with intake advisers responsible for front-line reception and peer advisers. In person, students can schedule both same-day appointments on a first-come, first-served basis and prescheduled appointments up to two weeks in advance.

Adviser Ed Free, sitting next to adviser Brenaia Blue, chats with a student at the open house.

Fong says that the advising center in Dwinelle is a pilot program that will allow advisers to engage more with students, especially freshmen and sophomores, and to have more developmental conversations with them as they navigate their journey through college. The advisers will also see the juniors and seniors in their caseloads. Fong hopes that the new, convenient location will encourage students to be more proactive in seeking advising to explore majors and courses, as well as enrichment opportunities, earlier in their college careers.

Adviser Carolyn Swalina says that college advising is much more than ensuring that students are taking enough classes to graduate. A holistic approach to advising, she adds, helps students identify their strengths and passions and is essential for walking students through points of transition and transformation.

“We want students to create meaningful and fulfilling futures for themselves through advising,” she adds.

The new center is on the other side of this wall in the Dwinelle Hall lobby.

Jacobsen says that with 22 advisers currently serving nearly 20,000 students in the College of Letters and Science, or 75 percent of the undergraduate population, the new center is the beginning of a long-term strategy for improving advising in the college.

As a long-term goal, a total of 50 advisers would be ideal for the number of undergraduate students in the College of Letters and Science, he adds.

Jacobsen says that the campus is testing new ways of making undergraduate advising more effective and welcomes suggestions from the campus community.